USGP Mercer Cup
After a solid rest week of easy riding and a lighter workweek, we headed to New Jersey for the USGP Mercer Cup. The field of racers was stacked full of the top US riders and several International riders. I was hoping for top 5 and a chance to see how my training and racing was stacking up against all of the top riders. It would be a good gauge of what the National Championships would look like.
The forecast was cloudy with some intermittent rain for Saturday and sunny and warm for Sunday. I was hoping for mud but when we arrived to pre-ride the course on Friday it was almost completely dry with a lot of loose fresh cut grass, long flat straight-aways and a handful of twisting turns. It appeared that it would be a very fast race and I would have to dig deep to stay in the lead group.
We checked into the same Residence Inn hotel as the previous year and felt right at home cooking dinner in the kitchen and relaxing with hot tub and then a bad movie.
It appeared to have rained a bit more overnight but had mostly stopped come morning. Although I was hoping for some mud, I wasn’t expecting the grassy course to have gotten as ripped up and muddy as it was! There were several categories of racers that had been on the course starting at 8am that day and by the time we had arrived, the entire course was thick, sticky, heavy mud. Our good friend Butch from SRAM Neutral Race Support had already replaced 11 rear derailleurs before the start of the Elite races. The course was trashing bikes.
I got myself into a good position at the start and was in the top three off the pavement onto the first sections of grass and mud. The course was pancake-flat which meant that you just had to keep pedaling to keep up any momentum in the thick mud. I was swapping bikes every half lap, which gave Matt only about five minutes to get a clean bike back to me.
After a few laps, I had settled into a battle with one other rider for 5th place. Any chance I felt that I could open up a gap, I pushed the pace and eventually pulled away and took 5th.
The weather had cleared and the temperature had gone up significantly. As much as I love racing in the mud and technically or hilly courses, I really dislike racing in the heat on very flat courses. However, I had no choice and gave it my best shot. The mud had packed down in most places making the course tacky but much faster.
I had decent start and avoided several small crashes that other riders got mixed up in as we went around the first few corners.
Within the first two laps, the leaders had taken off and I was in a chase group with two other riders for the remainder of the race. I had the advantage on one small running section but it was never enough to make a big enough dent and the other riders stuck with me. On the final lap one of the riders attacked and got a small gap while I sprinted the other rider to finish 8th. Given the depth of the field I was not disappointed although not completely satisfied. We left New Jersey motivated to get ready for Nationals.
Cyclingnews.com - Day1
Cyclingnews.com - Day2
Velonews - Day1
Velonews - Day2
Cyclocross Magazine - Day1
Cyclocross Magazine - Day2
Whitmore’s Super Cross Cup
This race is our annual adventure to The Hamptons on Long Island. This year we had decided to race only one of the days in order to have a much needed rest day without work or racing. It seems that our last day off was September 12th, much too long ago if we were hoping to keep our momentum for the final three weeks of the season.
Early on Saturday we drove down to Connecticut to catch the first of three ferries to Long Island. That is the part that makes it an “adventure” and Matt loves ferries.
We arrived to find the traditional racecourse set up which is a mix of grassy flats and hills with several single-track technical sections. The field of riders was again stacked full of several of the top US riders and would surely be fast and challenging.
I had a great start and settled into second place for much of the first lap. As we raced up to the barriers and up a small steep hill, another rider elbowed me as she attempted to pass me. In an effort to avoid being pushed over I held my position, but her poor timing to pass put us both into some soft sand and I was forced off my bike to run up a small hill losing at least 6 spots on the way. As I expended more energy than I had to chase back to my second place spot, I was unable to close the gap that had opened and slowly had to pick my way back.
I had worked back up to the sixth place rider and we were able to work together to catch up to fourth and fifth. Although we settled into a group for a while, each one of us began trying to break away from one another at various places on the course. However, despite the course appearing to be fairly wide open, there were only two or three places to pass other riders without being reckless and our group ended up sticking together into the final straight away. I ended up 7th and was ready for our precious day off to recharge the batteries and get ready for the final push of the season.
Thanks to Myles and Troy for helping us out this past weekend! Also, Anthony Skorochod, a great photographer from the Mid-Atlantic put together a bunch of photos of me from this season here.
Cyclingnews.com - Day1
Velonews - Day1
CyclingDirt - Race
CyclingDirt - Interview
MM Racing 2009 Calendar of Events:
11/28+11/29 Baystate Cyclocross Sterling, MA
12/5+12/6 USGP Stanley Cup Portland, OR
12/12+12/13 USA National Championships Bend, OR